Starz Acquires Rights To Hawkins Brothers’ Directorial Debut

Courtesy:  Starz Media

Courtesy: Starz Media

Kevin Kasha, Head of Acquisitions for Starz, announced this week that the company has acquired the award-winning movie We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.  The movie, which was the directorial debut of the Hawkins Brothers, premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and won the Audience Award at AFI Fest.  The deal, signed this week, gives Starz Digital Media exclusive rights to the movie in both Canada and the United States.

Kasha was upbeat in discussing acquiring the film from the up-and-coming directing duo.  “I love when our team discovers films by talented new filmmakers,” he said.  “Set in a dead-end Texas town, Zeke and Simon Hawkins offer audiences a gritty thriller that presents a fresh, sometimes surreal take that will appeal to film fans everywhere. We’re excited they’ve partnered with Starz to share their debut film.”

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place is a gritty crime drama that centers on a trio of teens in Texas that gets pulled into the world of organized crime after the young men go partying with some stolen money.  The movie stars Jeremy Allen White (Shameless), Mackenzie Davis (That Awkward Moment, AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire), Mark Pellegrino (Being Human), and William Devane (The Dark Knight).  The story was written by Dutch Southern and produced by Rough & Tumble Films.

More information on new releases from Starz and Starz Digital Media is available online at http://www.starz.com, http://www.facebook.com/Starz, and http://twitter.com/starz_channel.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Syfy’s Primeval Spinoff A Truly Underrated,Undervalued Sci-fi Series

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and zombies are all the rage right now across the entertainment spectrum. True Blood, Being Human, The Walking Dead, and so many others are a big draw across the television spectrum.  And even now another vampire based movie has hit theaters called Vampire Academy.  With all of the emphasis on such content, it should come as no surprise that Syfy’s spinoff to the hit British sci-fi series Primeval lasted no more than a single season.  That is not a swipe at Primeval or its spinoff, Primeval: New World.  Rather, it is an observation on why exactly this show didn’t last.  Primeval: New World is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  And those that actually sit down and give this series a chance will see just why it deserved more of a chance than it received.  First and foremost, it deserves more chance than it got in its original broadcast in that its writers were doing something that no other show was doing.  It was proposing the question of what would happen if by some odd circumstance, a means appeared for dinosaurs to enter the modern human world.  The end result of that is quite the adventure across the three discs that make up the set. The writing for each episode of this short-lived series is one part of what makes it worth a watch.  The special effects and on-location sets also help to make the series’ episodes enjoyable.  And let us also not forget about bonus material included in the recently released sets.  They play their own part in the success of the overall presentation. Together with the special effects and the writing, they complete the set, proving even more than ever why this set is worth the watch by any sci-fi purist.

Primeval: New World only lasted one season in its original run on Syfy and on Canadian television.  Many people (critics and audiences alike) have speculated as to why exactly this series ran only one season.  The real reason that most people would much rather not admit for whatever reason is because of the ratings being pulled in by all of the paranormal-centered shows and movies that currently permeate the entertainment spectrum.  Werewolves, ghosts, zombies, and vampires are all the rage right now on TV and in theaters.  So sadly, this show just didn’t stand a snowball’s chance.  But now with its release on DVD and Blu-ray, more audiences will see on what they missed out on in the show’s original run. The show’s writers crafted in Primeval: New World a show that is science fiction at its most pure. The whole concept of a time/space rift opening and allowing creatures from another time to invade the twenty-first century is as sci-fi as it gets. Add in a bunch of high tech gadgets to subdue the creatures in question, and audiences get a full dose of pure science fiction.  And considering that Syfy has seemingly strayed so far from its science fiction roots in recent years, having a show with so much science fiction was a welcome return to form for the network.

The writing behind each of the series’ stories is certain to keep any audience that gives the series a chance fully engaged.  Also to the show’s credits are those charged with bringing to life those fearsome creatures that Evan Cross (Nial Matter—Eureka) and his team hunt, as well as the show’s other special effects.  That along with the on-site shooting in Canada helped to make the show even more enjoyable.  It would have been so easy for those behind the cameras and computer screens to just make some really bad computer generated dinosaurs and other effects.  Believe it or not, there are some film and TV studios that to this day don’t care about quality effects.  This show’s crew wasn’t one of them.  It’s just part of the behind-the-lens work that makes the show stand out even more among the crowd.  One would be remiss to ignore the work by the cast and crew with the on-site shooting.  That plays a role, too.  That the cast and crew would be so willing to work with all of the weather changes throughout each episode’s shooting adds to the ability of viewers to suspend their disbelief.  As audiences will see in the recently released box set’s bonus features, it seemed to rain a lot during the series shooting. Yet the cast and crew worked with the weather regardless.  It actually heightened the action and emotion of some scenes, interestingly enough.

The bonus material included in this set has already been briefly mentioned.  Audiences get to see the impact of the weather on the series’ shooting throughout the bonus behind-the-scenes featurette.  What is most interesting about these featurettes is that they are actually episode specific. Rather than getting one large bundle package of sorts, each episode comes with its own introduction and discussion that can be watched before or after the episode in question.  They are somewhat brief.  But that’s actually a good thing.  It means that audiences don’t have to invest a whole block of time to each one.  Each bonus synopsis gives just enough information to set the stage for its companion episode. Each one also gives a little bit of insight into the work that went into bringing each episode to life.  So that enhances each episode even more.  For those reasons, the bonus material included in this box set becomes the set’s finishing touch and brings everything full circle.  It is that last piece that helps show why a show such as Primeval: New World is still so underrated today.  It solidifies just what makes this series stand out from the glut of paranormal based shows that clog the airwaves and theaters to this day.  Primeval: New World is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Primeval-New-World-Complete-Blu-ray/dp/B00ECXJC1O/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1390796896&sr=1-2&keywords=primeval+new+world+complete+series.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Being Human Stands Out Among TV’s Serials In Its Third Season

Courtesy:  Entertainment One/Syfy

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Syfy

Werewolves and vampires and ghosts, oh my! Werewolves and vampires and ghosts, oh my! That’s right. The werewolves, vampires, and ghosts are back for another season in Being Human Season Three. Syfy and Entertainment One have partnered to release the third season of the hit horror based prime time soap opera just in time to count down the days to the premiere of the series’ fourth season on Syfy. Season Three has been lauded both by fans and the cast alike as being the best so far for the series. And it is made even better now that Season Three has been released to DVD and Blu-ray. First and foremost, it is a serial , like so many other shows out there right now. But unlike so many serials, one doesn’t come into Season Three feeling like one needs a program to follow the show. That’s something rare to find especially among the overwhelming glut of serials that fill television’s Big 4 and the cable networks. Staying in that same vein (no pun intended), audiences will appreciate just as much the “built-in”episode guide included in the box. Each episode is listed within the box set. And each episode comes with a brief but concise summary, helping to set the stage for each episode. If the episode listing and summaries aren’t enough for fans, then perhaps the included bonus features will get audiences excited. All of these factors together make the new DVD and Blu-ray box set release of Being Human Season Three one that any fan of the show will enjoy as they count the days to Season Four’s premiere.

The first thing that audiences should take into consideration with the third season of Being Human—whether seeing it for the first time or not in its third season—is its writing. On the surface, this series is just one more of so many serials that crowd the airwaves in this era. But on a deeper level, it is a series that is largely easy to follow. There is no need for a program to keep up with this plot or that one or even another one. It actually maintains in large part, the same characters and same developing storyline that it started out with in the show’s first season. Far too many other serials on TV today continue to get that formula wrong. Their writers try so hard to keep things going that they end up writing themselves into the proverbial corner. In the case of this series, that hasn’t happened, even in the show’s third season. Audiences that have any knowledge of television’s other serial offerings will concur with this fact.

The writing involved in each of this season’s episodes is the foundation for the overall success of Season Three. Resting on that foundation of sorts is another aspect that audiences will appreciate in its new home release. That second aspect is the episode listing and summaries included inside both the season’s DVD and Blu-ray case. On the inside front and back of the case is a complete listing of each episode. Also included with the episode listing are brief but concise summaries of each episode. The summaries collectively are a positive for those that are more familiar with this season in that they serve as a refresher for said audiences. For those same audiences, maybe said audiences missed one episode or another. Then the summaries serve an even greater purpose. For those that are seeing Season Three for the first time, the episode list and summaries will set the stage for the episodes contained on the set’s four discs. As little attention as some audiences might give such a factor, this just goes to show how important the included episode list and summaries become in the bigger picture of things.

The last factor that audiences should take into consideration with this new DVD and Blu-ray box set is the included bonus features. Included in this set is a rather in-depth behind-the-scenes featurette, a standard blooper reel, and for those (like this critic) that have never had the pleasure of attending the famed San Diego Comic Con, the complete Being Human panel from said event. Fans of the show will enjoy the Comic Con panel. It’s a nice lighthearted moment from the cast that will leave audiences applauding and laughing along with those in attendance. The Behind-The-Scenes featurette is the key bonus feature among the bonuses. It advances the writing, the episode list and summaries even more. It expands on the events of Season Three while also offering some first person commentary from the cast on set. There are also segments highlighting the show’s special effects, the makeup work, and much more. Each of the segments in question is separated from the others by its own slate. Again, this seems like something minor at first glance. But on a deeper level, it helps to keep audiences’ attention and keep up with what is being discussed through the course of each segment. Far too few shows do this with the bonus features on their home releases.  So audiences will appreciate this being done here.  It is one more part of the whole in the complete Being Human Season Three that fans of the show will appreciate when they pick up their own copy.  It is available in stores and online now.  More information on Being Human is available online at http://www.facebook.com/beinghuman.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Get Ready For Being Human Season 4 With A Free Copy Of Season 3

Courtesy:  Entertainment One/Syfy

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Syfy

Happy new year, everyone!  I hope that your new year is off to a great start.  In honor of the new Year, Phil’s Pick is proud to announce a brand new contest.  It’s short notice, but this Friday, one lucky person will win a free DVD copy of Being Human Season 3.  The hit Syfy series returns for its fourth season January 13th at 9m ET.  While fans count down the days to the Season Four premiere, one lucky fan can catch up with a free copy of Season Three on DVD courtesy of Phil’s Picks.  All you have to do is write on the Phil’s Picks FB timeline at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks noting that you want to be entered for a chance at this one free copy.  It’s that easy.  Season Three is also available in stores and online.  It can be ordered via Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004R35DLW/ref=cm_sw_su_dp.  More information on the upcoming Season Four premiere and all things Being Human is available online at http://www.facebook.com/beinghuman.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Haven A Rare Serial Worth Watching In Its Third Season

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Syfy

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Syfy

Syfy used to be one of the greatest networks on cable at one point.  It lived up completely to its name, airing primarily science fiction.  But somewhere along the line, this one great powerhouse of a network fell off and did a total 180, opting instead for really bad modern day B-movies and the like.  But in the last couple of years or so, it has looked like there might be tiny glimmers of hope with the Battlestar Galactica special, “Blood & Chrome” and the introduction of Defiance.  And then, the network took a couple more daring steps, picking up Sanctuary and Haven.  While the prior only lasted four seasons, it was a great mix of fantasy and sci-fi and was a perfect fit for the network.  Haven on the other hand, is more of a sci-fi/supernatural hybrid.  This aside, the show is still a good fit for Syfy.  And currently being in the midst of its fourth season, it will be interesting to see if it can outlast Sanctuary.  While fans take in Season Four, they can now take in every episode from the show’s third season on DVD and Blu-ray.

Things get quite interesting for both Audrey (Emily Rose) and the residents of Haven.  Secrets are finally revealed about Audrey’s past that will change her future forever.  She finds out just who the Colorado Kid is and how he is supposedly connected to her.  That won’t be revealed here for the sake of those trying to catch up with the series.  There is also an evil twin plot with a twist in the two-part episode, “Magic Hour.”  The evil twin plot is a staple of any science fiction program.  And while its execution in this two-part episode has been done before, it’s rarely been done in the format used here.  As Season Three winds down, even more revelations are made in “Last Goodbyes.”  Again, the show’s writers keep the surprises coming; so much so that audiences can’t help but keep watching.  That is the sign of solid writing.  So congratulations are in order for the show’s writers, obviously. 

Writing is key to any television show’s success, regardless of genre.  And if Haven’s third season is any indication, the show’s writing is just as solid as ever, even as a serial.  In the case of a science fiction show, the writing is especially important.  But it’s not the sole factor in the show’s success.  The shooting and special effects are just as key to the show as its writing.  And both were just as expertly pulled off as the writing.  Considering Syfy’s recent track record with a majority of its programming, it would have been so easy for the people behind the cameras to go the cheesy angle.  Rather, the special effects and shooting tied in to the show are just as good as those in NBC’s sci-fi drama, Revolution and even AMC’s The Walking Dead.  That’s some pretty good company in which to sit.  And those that work tirelessly to make the show’s special effects and shooting something special.  Along with its writing, these two factors help to show why exactly why Haven is one of the best dramas on television today.

The writing, special effects, and shooting are all key components to the success of Haven in its third season.  And now that it has been released to DVD and Blu-ray box set, audiences have even more reason to be happy about their favorite show.  That reason is the included bonus features.  Season Three’s box set includes both audio commentary and more than enough bonus features to make any Haven fan squeal with glee.  Fans are treated to the full series of Haven webisodes, and all the standard behind-the-scenes footage and cast interviews.  The full making of featurette is there, too in “The Haunting Truth About Haven:  A Documentary.”    Fans will also appreciate the bonus New York ComicCon Haven panel.  This feature is the real bright spot among the bonus features.  That’s because fans really get to see the cast as themselves, rather than as characters.  The cast and writers discuss what could be expected from the showing in coming episodes and the now fourth season.  Rather than taking questions from the audience, the panel is run by a moderator.  And her questions for the cast are both serious at times and at others worthy of more than their share of riotous laughter.  The responses from the cast members are a just as serious and laugh out loud funny.  It’s one more positive to a box set that any true sci-fi fan will appreciate.  And it is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Haven-Complete-Third-Season-Blu-ray/dp/B00DPJEWCK/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1379621678&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=haven+the+comple+third+season.  More information on this and other releases from SyFy is available online at http://www.syfy.com and http://www.facebook.com/Syfy

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com

MST3K Vol. XXVII A Laugh Riot For Film Buffs

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The latest installment of the cult classic, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), keeps the laughs coming yet again.  MST3K Volume XXVII brings audiences four more episodes and four more movies that are so bad that they’re good.  And of course, what volume of MST3K episodes would be complete without the absolutely hilarious commentary by Mike, Joel, Crow, and Tom Servo?  It’s all here in one more collection that any fan of this classic series will love to watch again and again.  Audiences even get to see a young Ron Howard away from his more well-known role as Opie Taylor in one of the movies.

From giant dancing teens to Cold War propaganda to a giant killer bug to subterranean creatures coming to take over the surface world, this volume has more than its share of campy greatness in its four discs.  The set is anchored by what is one of Universal’s best of the bad in The Deadly MantisThe Deadly Mantis is just one of the many classic horror/sci-fi flicks that Universal Studios churned out after the success of its original monster movies (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon).  This terribly campy flick features a giant prehistoric praying mantis wreaking havoc on the world when the iceberg in which it was encased breaks loose from the arctic and thaws out in warmer waters.  This sci-fi classic was one of the campiest of Universal’s monster movies.  But by comparison to today’s over-the-top movies claiming themselves to be horror, it is a welcome inclusion for fans of real sci-fi and horror flicks.  Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo’s irreverent commentary makes it even better.  There are pop culture references, some slightly politically incorrect jokes, and even some that are so nonsensical that one can’t help but laugh at them.  The jokes are just part of what makes this movie the anchor to this new set.  Fans of classic movies will appreciate the bonus feature on the life of William Alland.  “Chasing Rosebud: The Cinematic Life of William Alland” explains the importance of Alland in the history of monster and sci-fi movies.  Whether viewers are watching this movie for the first time or for the first time again, this feature will make audiences appreciate his work and The Deadly Mantis even more as a campy yet highly important piece of movie history.

If a classic monster movie from Universal isn’t enough, then perhaps audiences will enjoy the Cold War era propaganda piece, Rocket Attack U.S.A.  This black and white movie was centered on tensions between the United States and Russia and what would happen if the two sides both launched their nuclear warheads.  It would be no surprise if this 1961 classic was at least partially the influence behind the far more influential 1964 drama, Failsafe.  The movie’s criticisms don’t’ stop during the film.  Just as with the other movies in this and previous volumes of MST3K episodes, this episode is presented exactly as it aired, complete with intermission segments.  The killing of the movie keeps going with its intermission segment as Joel and company go off on the evil Dr. Forrester about all of the movie’s inconsistencies.  It’s so funny hearing them filet the movie because viewers know that what Joel and company have to say is exactly what they themselves would have said.  That ability to relate to viewers event today makes both this flick and The Deadly Mantis (as well as the set’s other pair of movies) as enjoyable as they are campy. 

The movies included in this latest volume of MST3K episodes are funny and enjoyable.  It should be noted that Village of the Giants probably isn’t entirely proper for younger viewers.  If anything, it comes across as a little bit of an exploitation film, as the “teen” girls outgrow their clothes when they grow.  They do keep themselves covered.  But some parents might find this a little unsuitable for children.  That aside, there is one more factor to note in this new set of episodes.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  Each episode is set in its own slim case within the larger box.  And each box has its own hilarious artwork that goes along with the movie.  The artwork used on each episode’s box is just as campy as the movies themselves.  So even before viewers put in each disc, they get a good laugh from the artwork on each case.  That each disc has its own slim case, this protects each disc from scratching.  It’s one more positive—along with the set’s other factors–that will impress fans from the very first time they pull the wrapping from the box.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXVII will be available Tuesday, July 23rd.  It will be available in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217352.  Fans can find out about all of the latest releases from Shout! Factory on its official website, http://www.shoutfactory.com and its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Re-Issuing MST3K The Movie This Fall

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

For years, Shout! Factory has released to audiences twenty-six volumes of episodes from the hit cult comedy/sci-fi series, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (otherwise known by fans as MST3K).  This summer, fans will see a twenty-seventh volume hit store shelves and online outlets.  And this fall, fans get even more of a treat when Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie will be re-issued by Shout! Factory on a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie originally debuted in theaters in 1996.  The movie was centered on the 1955 sci-fi classic, This Island Earth.  Now fans of the cult favorite show and its subsequent movie will get to add this modern classic to their libraries when the movie is re-issued on Tuesday, September 3rd.  This time out, it’s not just Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo that could be subjected to the best of the worst of Hollywood’s sci-fi flicks.  The evil scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester explains in the movie’s opening that he plans to torture the people of the whole planet to the movies that for years Mike and company have had to endure.  Who can stop them?  Leave it to Mike, Crow and Tom Servo….perhaps.  Audiences will have to find out for themselves when Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie is released on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack Tuesday September 3rd.

The following bonus features and specs included in the upcoming re-issue are below:

Special Features:

  • The Making Of Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie
  • The Making Of Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie : The Motion Picture Odyssey
  • This Island Earth: 2 ½ Years In the Making
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Presentation

  • Blu-ray: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio
  • DVD: Anamorphic Widescreen/Dolby Digital
  • Color/74 minutes/Rated PG

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Tin Man Just As Good As Before In Its Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment/Syfy

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment/Syfy

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is preparing to launch the latest release in the legendary Oz franchise onto BD/DVD combo pack on June 11th.  Just in time for the home video release of this latest installment of L. Frank Baum’s, Mill Creek Entertainment has also re-issued Syfy’s Tin Man on Blu-ray and DVD.  This re-imagining of the 1939 fantasy classic was originally released to double-disc Blu-ray and DVD on July 20th, 2010.  This latest Blu-ray re-issue has taken that double-disc presentation and compressed it down to a single disc.  What’s interesting is that while the original double-disc presentation has been reduced to just one disc, little—if anything—has been lost in translation.

For those who perhaps have never seen it, Tin Man takes the classic 1939 big screen adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s classic fantasy story and turns it completely on its ear.  Though, in doing so, it actually manages somehow to maintain more than a fleeting connection to the 1939 original.  If anything, fans of the original will be thrilled to know that it actually maintains the connections quite well in its re-imagining.  The Scarecrow has become a character known as Glitch.  Imagine if you will an updated half-human take on the Scarecrow that looks like a cross between Tim Burton and Martin Short.  What’s more, while he has a brain, he does in fact have a little bit of a glitch in his brain, thus the name.  That glitch makes for a fun running gag throughout the story.  The Tin Man is no longer tin, but human.  Even the Tin Man name itself has been relegated to little more than a derogatory term used for the Wicked Witch’s (In this case, the Sorceress’) enforcers.  It’s explained in more depth within the context of the mini-series.  And don’t expect to see someone dressed up in a lion costume like Bert Lahr.  Even Toto has been somewhat re-imagined.  There’s even more that’s been changed, including the Yellow Brick Road, the Emerald City and so much more.  But viewers will have to check out this eye opening mini-series for themselves to see how much has been re-imagined.  This includes the very story, including the origin story of Dorothy/D.G (Zooey Deschanel).  It is one more element of the whole that is somehow actually believable enough to make the whole story believable and thus fully worth more than just one watch.

While so many elements of Baum’s classic tale have been re-imagined in Tin Man, it’s not such a bad thing.  As a matter of fact, being that this story debuted in 2007, one can’t help but wonder if it played at least a slightly influential role in the creation of Oz The Great and Powerful.  That’s because in comparing the two stories, there are at least some fleeting similarities between the pair in terms of origin stories.  This is about the extent of the similarities.  For that matter, with the mini-series’ success in its original run on Syfy (then Sci-Fi Channel), one can’t help but wonder if it was the success of Tin Man that led to the rise of fantasy based shows on NBC (Grimm), ABC (Once Upon a Time), and Fox (Sleepy Hollow).  It could be argued that it did in fact have an influence on their rise especially since little else was on TV or in theaters before these shows started becoming such hits.

Understanding and appreciating the influence (perceived or real) of Tin Man on other more recent movies and TV shows plays an important role in the enjoyment of this mini-series.  The story will keep viewers engaged throughout all three segments of the program.  It’s not all that will keep viewers engaged throughout the program.  Its special effects will, too.  Unlike so many of the really bad below-B grade movies that Syfy generally churns out, the special effects used throughout this mini-series are actually far less over the top than the aforementioned flicks.  It’s obvious that there is some CG work that was done with the special effects.  But it isn’t as sickly obvious as it is movies such as say, Sharktopus or other equally bad flicks.  In fact, the special effects used in Tin Man are just enough to serve as just enough extra spice to make this story that much more worth watching for anyone that is a fan of The Wizard of Oz.       

All of the work that went into making Tin Man resulted in a feature that stands out among the masses of movies, series, and mini-series churned out by Syfy.  And in the annals of works that have adapted and re-adapted L. Frank Baum’s classic fantasy tale, it stands out just as much.  Having taken into account the work that went into bringing this re-imagining to life, there is one more factor to be examined.  That factor is the packaging of the newly re-issued Blu-ray and DVD.  Viewers will be pleased to discover that with this latest re-issue of Tin Man, each segment of the mini-series is separated out into three separate segments.  This will allow audiences to watch each segment by itself or back to back without stopping.  Just as impressive concerning the overall presentation of the new re-issue is the packaging.  Those that purchase the Blu-ray will be happy to discover that instead of the standard envelope packaging used in most Mill Creek releases, the BD is actually placed in its own spot inside the case.  Mill Creek does this sometimes with its releases.  But it more commonly uses single disc envelopes for packaging.  So it’s nice to see this form of packaging once more from Mill Creek.  And it is that packaging in conjunction with everything else that went into the Tin Man mini-series that makes it a presentation that any fantasy and science fiction fan will appreciate.  It is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.

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Star Trek TNG Season Three Even Better On Blu-Ray

Courtesy:  Paramount

Courtesy: Paramount

One of the most anticipated movies of the Summer 2013 movie season is the upcoming sequel to the 2009 reboot of Star Trek.  Just in time for the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, Paramount Studios and CBS Home Entertainment have released the third season of the highly acclaimed series, Star Trek The Next Generation.  From here on out, it will be shortened to Star Trek TNGStar Trek TNG Season Three is considered by many fans of the show to be one of its best.  It is where the show started to turn around and start to take off.  That is thanks in large part to the leadership of head writer Michael Piller.  It was under his leadership that great episodes including: “The Offspring”, “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “Sins of The Father” came about.  And who can forget what is considered one of television’s best ever episodes in the two part episode, “Best of Both Worlds?”  These episodes are just part of the whole that make Season Three so great now that it is available on a five-disc blu-ray box set.  The bonus features included also play a role in this new set’s success.  And of course, one has to also take into account the set’s packaging, which is just as impressive as every other aspect of the box.  All assembled together, it makes for a box set that any true hardcore fan of Star Trek TNG will appreciate and enjoy with every viewing.

The episodes included in the third season of Star Trek TNG are some of the series finest.  A prime example of this comes in the form of “The Offpspring”, “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “Sins of The Father.”  In “The Offspring”, Data has one of his first tastes of being human when he creates an android child for which he can care.  This episode is a wonderful example of art imitating life.  Just as Data didn’t know what to expect as a parent, neither do real parents.  And Captain Picard’s reaction to Data on Data’s announcement was just like that of a parent to perhaps his or her own child announcing the expectation of a new child.  Data is forced to learn his “offspring” and she is forced to learn about the world around her.  Again, it is such a mirror image of actual life.  Much the same can be said of the episode, “Sins of the Father.”  This episode gave the show’s writers more chance to show a more “human” side to Worf when he is forced to return to the Klingon home world and answer for charges placed against his father.  This episode also introduces Worf’s brother.  It is those family interactions with his brother and standing up for his father that shows a largely hidden side of Worf.  Again, this is art imitating life.  There are people much like Worf who would prefer to keep their gentler, more caring side hidden so as to maintain a certain reputation.  Again, this mirror image of life makes the suspension of disbelief that much easier, and thus enjoyment of the episode that much easier in turn.

Both “Sins of the Father” and “The Offspring” are episodes to which audiences can relate so easily.  That’s because of the ability to relate to these episodes.  Season Three also offers audiences episodes that are less related to regular life and more related to scientific theory.  Such is the case of “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”  Audiences get in this episode the concept of whether wormholes exist and whether they are more closely related to black holes or are perhaps extraterrestrial passageways between time and space.  Yes, this is a deep concept.  And the writers obviously knew this.  That’s because they didn’t present the theory in a fashion that would be above the heads of casual sci-fi fans and not too much below those that are far more deeply involved in scientific theory.  This episode also sees the return of Tasha Yar, who in herself presents another theory linked to the interconnectivity of events at given points in time.  That, along with the general storytelling, makes this another wonderful addition to the hit sci-fi show’s most integral season.

The writing for the episodes noted here (and the others not listed) makes Star Trek TNG Season Three the best in the show’s seven season run.  Audiences will understand and appreciate this even more in the bonus three part feature, “Resistance is Futile – Assimilating Star Trek: The Next Generation.”  Audiences get to hear from the writers and the main cast of Star Trek TNG in this feature.  Viewers will be quite interested to hear just how much went on behind the scenes in order to bring Season Three’s episodes to life.  There apparently was a lot of turmoil among the show’s staff of writers; so much so that at one point, there might have been either a mutiny or an all out walk-out.  There are also discussions from members of the main cast, including: Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner.  McFadden discusses coming back to the show after having been away for a season.  Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Troi, adds her own thoughts on McFadden returning to the show.  She shares that she was quite happy to have her friend back.  Brent Spiner’s thoughts on being addressed by the public as Data instead of Mr. Spiner are definitely worth checking out.  He makes perfect sense in what he shares.  And Michael Dorn sharing some funny moments in taping episodes of the show will have audiences rolling with laughter.  Again, it is one more positive to a set that already has so much going for it.

The episodes written for Star Trek TNG Season Three and the discussions about the writing processes together make this latest box set another must have for any true Trek fan.  There is at least one more aspect of the set that viewers will appreciate.  That aspect is the set’s packaging.  The set is comprised of five Blu-ray discs.  Each disc is placed in its own spot inside the case in what is increasingly becoming the standard for multi-disc box set packaging.  Following this model protects the discs, thus preserving them for a much longer period of time than those sets from other shows that might have otherwise been packaged in a less ergonomic style.  That is another positive to the set’s packaging.  Because of the style in which this set was packaged, it takes up less room on a DVD and/or Blu-ray rack than more traditional box sets.  This is an example of the adage that less is more.  This combined with everything else presented in the new Star Trek TNG Season Three box set, makes this set an absolute must have for those who perhaps would rather see the show in high definition rather than standard def.  It is available now in stores and online.

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The Haunting Hour’s First Season Closes With Two More Scary Sets Of Stories

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/The Hub

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/The Hub

R.L. Stine and The Hub are back with two more volumes of seriously scary stories for kids and their parents.  The Haunting Hour Vol. 3 & 4 offer audiences ten more tales of terror that will entertain and scare audiences every time they turn them on.  This latest pair of volumes offers not only five great episodes each, but some star power, too.  The Haunting Hour Vol. 3 boats guest appearances from the likes of Robert Capron (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Maddison Pettis (Cory in the House), Christopher Heyerdahl (Hell on Wheels, Sanctuary), and others.  Apparently, Heyerdahl has a thing for playing villains, much like Tim Curry, as he takes on the role of quite the scary character in the episode, ‘Fear Never Knocks.’  Heyerdahl’s character is absolutely creepy in his role in this episode, terrorizing a pair of children who stumble upon their grandfather’s “box of fear.”  He is released when young Jenny decides to play with the box, and releases both her fears and those of her brother and fear itself (played by Heyerdahl).  Also in Volume Three, Maddison Pettis is one of three kids that get caught up in a supernatural story that brings the past and present together thanks to a mysterious mask.  The mask shows events that happened in the past, which themselves lead to another mystery that will leave viewers guessing right up to the end of the story.  And in another of the set’s best episodes, Robert Capron plays a young man whose overactive apetite leads him to get much more than he hoped for after a strange ice cream truck starts making rounds through the boy’s neighborhood.  This is an episode that will send “chills” (ba-dump-bump-bump) through every viewer, and will make them think twice next time they see an ice cream truck come through their neighborhood.  What’s more, it’s a valuable warning against over eating, too, ironically enough.  It’s little things like this, and the writing for the other noted episodes that make The Haunting Hour Volume Three another nice inclusion for any fan of ghost stories and of R.L. Stine’s work.

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/The Hub

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/The Hub

The scares don’t stop with Volume Three of The Haunting Hour.  Fans will also enjoy Volume Four, which was released alongside Volume Three.  The show’s fourth volume offers even more scares, as well as guest appearances.  It all opens with another episode that’s just as much a warning as it is a scary story in ‘Wrong Number.’  Debby Ryan (The Suite Life on Deck, Radio Rebel) stars in this episode as Steffani.  Steffani is a rather spoiled young woman that is the very stereotype of the stuck up “mean girl.”  But she gets what’s coming to her when she and her friend decide to prank call an elderly woman one night.  The consequences of her actions turn out to be deadly, as a matter of fact.  This is just one of the many scary stories presented in The Haunting Hour Volume Four.  Another equally terrifying tale included in this set is the episode, ‘Lights Out.’  Super 8 star Gabriel Basso stars as Teddy, a young teen skeptic who is pulled into a ghost hunt after watching a ghost hunt show on TV.  Teddy’s friends set out to prove to him that ghosts are in fact real in their hunt for the supernatural.  He learns that lesson in a way he never would have expected, nor will viewers who have never seen this episode.  The twist ending will scare audiences to no end and leave them talking.  As with Volume Three, what is presented here is just part of what makes Volume Four so enthralling.  The stories presented in these two volumes are sure to scare and entertain both kids and adults alike.

The Haunting Hour recently wrapped its third season on The Hub network.  Allegedly, a fourth season might be in production.  That gives ample time for both seasons Two and Three to be released to DVD while fans await the show’s return to The Hub.  Until then though, these last two volumes of Season One will keep audiences coming back again and again.  All four volumes are available in stores and online and can be ordered online direct at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com

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